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Posts tagged ‘ROP Center for Street Children’

ROP Graduates Earn Scholarships

Excerpt from Amakuru! News from the Rwandan Orphans Project.

Recent ROP Graduates Earn Scholarships

At the Rwandan Orphans Project we stress education above all else, knowing that it is these children’s best chance to escape the cycle of poverty. This is why we were extremely excited to learn that three of the six graduates of the ROP program last year had earned themselves full government scholarships to university starting in 2012.

Franco and Vincent

One of the students is Franco Gakwaya. Franco had been with the ROP since about 2004 and has consistently been one of our top students. Dianne Longson, Franco’s sponsor and a long time supporter of the ROP, has committed to paying Franco’s registration fee so he can enroll without having to worry about money. Franco will be attending the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Rwanda’s most prestigious technical school. He will study electrical engineering.

Vincent Butera, another student who’s been supported by Ms. Longson, is another graduate who will carry on to university. Vincent has long had a passion for education, working hard to teach himself English since he came to the ROP about six years ago. He has always dreamed of being a teacher, and now he will be attending the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), the premier university for future educators in Rwanda.

The ROP’s third scholarship recipient is Eric Birkumana. Eric, who also stayed at the ROP for about six years, has always had a keen interest in technology and has been a very hard worker in the classroom. Thanks to his hard work and excellent national exam results he will also be attending KIST University next year along with Franco. His subject of study will be mechanical engineering.

These three students have made all of us very proud and have set a wonderful example for all the children who they leave behind. Without sponsors like you, however, these young men probably would never have had the opportunity to attend school in the first place, let alone have access to healthcare and other necessities. Now their futures are bright as they move on to higher education and all the opportunities it opens up.

From all of us here at the ROP, thank you for helping us to change the lives of children like Franco, Vincent and Eric.

Day of African Child

From Amakuru: News from the Rwandan Orphans Project.

ROP Hosts “International Day of the African Child” Event for Rwandan Government

The ROP was surprised but pleased to be chosen to host the celebration ceremony for the International Day of the African Child on June 19th, 2011. There are many centers for vulnerable children in our district, so to be chosen over all of them meant they see ROP as a top program.,That is something we are very proud of. Our joy was only tempered by the fact that we only had a week to prepare.
But as always the ROP family came together and worked extremely hard painting rooms, cleaning the grounds, landscaping and doing whatever else needed to be done so the ROP Center would look its best for the guests and officials from the government who were due to attend.

The big day arrived and the Center was in top shape. The children of the ROP dressed up in their nicest clothes, all except the football and rugby club players, who wanted to show off their team uniforms.

During the ceremony various guests spoke about the strife of orphans and vulnerable children in Rwanda and how well programs like the ROP were working to improve their lives and provide them with a future. Celestin Mitabu, the ROP Center director, pleaded for the government to get more involved in the work of organizations like ours. Sean Jones, ROP coordinator presented certificates of achievement to three of the six students that graduated the ROP program last year who received full university scholarships from the Rwandan government. The children were also treated to songs and dances performed by their fellow residents and children from other centers as well as each receiving a Fanta as a treat from the Mayor.

Orphanage Kitchen Complete!

A new and much needed kitchen at ROP Center for Street Children in Rwanda was just completed.

Last week the ribbon was cut and ROP’s much needed new kitchen was officially opened for use. The construction was funded by Line Loen and her Metamorfose organization. Line visited the Center earlier this year and upon seeing the old kitchen, with its smoke damage, inefficient open fires and crumbling walls, decided to sponsor a new, safer and more efficient facility. She partnered with Manna Energy, based in Colorado, who funded and constructed the large “rocket stove” that is used to cook the large amount of beans and corn meal the boys consume every day. Metamorfose contributed funding for the bulk of the project, including sinks for washing food and hands before eating and three smaller stoves for cooking vegetables and other food.

Line, a very strong sponsor of the ROP, wanted to construct the new kitchen to promote cleaner cooking, better hygiene, better health conditions for the cooks and to reduce our firewood costs. Emmanual Habimana, one of the Center’s cooks, shared his happiness with the new kitchen. “We can cook more food, and cook it faster. Mostly, though, we can see what we’re doing and we can breath, thanks to the smokeless stoves and ventilation.”

Great Day for Rwandan Orphanage

Just received this post from ROP Stories about a great event they were asked to put on at the ROP Center for Street Children in Rwanda.

A Great Day for ROP!
Posted on June 21, 2011 by Sean

About ten days ago we were informed that our Rwandan Orphans Project Center would be hosting an event for the government in Kicukiro District to celebrate the pan-African holiday, the International Day of the African Child. This surprised us because ten days is not very much time to prepare for such an event. We knew we had a challenge ahead of us, but we were up to it.

In the coming days everyone pulled together to make sure our home would be presented in the best way possible. Everyone, from the administration to the teachers and children worked incredibly hard cleaning, landscaping, making repairs, painting, etc. You name it, we did it. The boys, especially the older ones, really worked their tails off and we are quite proud of them for that. Compounding the preparations that had to be made was the fact that we already had to other major projects happening at the Center. On one side we had the construction of the new kitchen. It was nearing completion but there were some changes that had to be made after construction and it had yet to be painted and thoroughly tested. On the other side of the Center much needed new toilets and showers were being built. These were proving to be a headache because the builder wanted to keep all the profit for himself and so he refused to hire laborers to help him. So despite his promise of finishing on Thursday they still appeared to be only about 70% finished by the morning of the event.

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The Skin of Lions

Short story from children’s story collection.
The Skin of Lions: Rwandan Folk Tales.
Edited by Gabriel Constans.

At one time, all of the children in this book lived on the streets of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Their parents died from the genocide in 1994 or from the AIDS pandemic. They have been given new life and hope at an orphanage called ROP Center for Street Children. The stories from The Skin of Lions are taken from their personal experiences, traditional folk tales or unique creative imaginations. The children range in age from ten to nineteen and tell tales for all generations. They share their words from a thousand-year-old oral tradition and speak for all those that have been silenced.

The Skin of Lions by AHIKIRIJE Jean Bosco (Age 17)

There was a man, named Cambarantama, who looked after his sheep and cultivated his fields. One day, while he was looking after his sheep and leading them to the grasses, he found a small animal in the bush that had eaten some of his crops. When the man came back the next day, the same small creature had eaten more of his crops. He took the little animal back home and said, “I’m going to have to kill you for eating my crops.”

The small animal said, “Wait; please don’t eat me. Forgive me and I will not eat your crops any more.”

Cambarantama had a good heart, forgave the little animal and let him go.

On his way back to the shamba (field) the next day, Cambarantama was approached by a very big animal. The big animal told Cambarantama that he had to kill one of the sheep in the field and give it to him for his kettle. Cambarantama was scared and did as he was told. He went and killed one of his sheep and gave it to the big animal. This kept happening day after day.

One day, on his way to his shamba, Cambarantama met the little animal that he had forgiven. The little animal said, “I see that you have less and less sheep. What has happened?”

Cambarantama replied, “There is a big animal that comes every day and makes me give it one of my sheep. That is why you see so few that are left.”

The little animal he had saved said, “The next time that big animal comes I will be next to you, hidden in a bush. I will tell you what to say.”

Cambarantama took his sheep to the grasses and the big animal once again came from the forest and told him it was time for him to give him another one of his flock, but Cambarantama said he would not give him any more. The small animal was hidden next to Cambarantama and spoke out loud.

“Who are you talking to?” asked the big animal.

The small animal said loudly, “I am the king of heaven and earth who puts on the skin of lions.”

“Who is that?” asked the big animal.

“What are you looking for?” shouted the little animal, hidden behind the bush.

The big animal was scared and said, “I . . . I’m just looking for firewood.”

“Sit down and don’t move!” shouted the little animal, who then whispered to Cambarantama to get the firewood rope and tie the hands and legs of the big animal.

That is how Cambarantama captured and killed the big ferocious animal and saved his sheep, with the help of the little vegetable eating animal he had forgiven.

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(All proceeds from sale of book go to ROP Center for Street Children.)

Jackie Chan in Rwanda

Excerpt from ROP Stories. A blog for the Rwandan Orphan’s Project.

Chan-tastic
Posted on April 26, 2011 by Jenny Clover
(This post was originally posted in Jenny’s Blog, A Fish Called Rwanda)

Yesterday Sean and I watched in amazement at the reaction that the two magic words “Jackie Chan” evoked in the smaller boys at the orphanage. Some jumped up and down, eyes tightly closed in ecstasy; some punched the air; all whooped; one looked like he might wet himself with happiness.

We now have a projector at the Centre and when dad visited he brought over some DVDs for the boys. I’m not sure why, but every male under the age of about 20 that I’ve met in Rwanda goes absolutely crackers for Jackie Chan. They don’t seem to have heard of any Hollywood stars, but they all know old JC and they adore him. It must be the non-stop action and silliness, and the lack of much real dialogue that’s so engrossing for them. So yesterday, we decided to show Jackie Chan’s First Strike in the dining room.

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Gato and Gakuru

Excerpt from The Skin of Lions: Rwandan Folk Tales (as told by the children at ROP Center for Street Children.

Gato and Gakuru
by NSHINIYIMANA Jean Paul (Age 11)

There was once a husband and wife who had a daughter and a son. The daughter’s name was Gato and the son’s name was Gakuru. Their mother died and left them alone with their father.

One day, their father told both his children to go find some firewood and bring it back home. After they left to find firewood, Gato hid from her little brother Gakuru and went off to play with her friends. Gato’s friends gave her some extra firewood, which she brought home to her father.

When her father asked her where Gakuru had gone, she said, “He went to play with the girls.”

When Gakuru got home, his father asked him where he had been and why he only brought one piece of firewood. He told his father that he had been looking and looking, but this was all he could find. His father didn’t believe him and told him to go get their wood splitter. Gakuru went and got the wood splitter and handed it to his father.

His father told him to bend forward so he could look at his head, but the father took the axe and split open his son’s head.

After Gakuru’s father had split him into little pieces, he carried his body to the field and buried him in the ground near a papaya tree.

Not long afterwards, Gato went to pick some fruit from that papaya tree, but became afraid when she heard a voice saying, “You cheated and lied and now I am dead.”

She walked up to the tree again and heard it say, “Don’t pick from me. Because of you, I brought my father the axe and he took my life.”

Gato could not pick the fruit and ran home to tell her father about the talking tree.

Her father said, “Let me go with you. I have to hear this myself.”

When the father tried to pick the fruit it said the same thing, “Don’t pick from me. Because of you, I brought my father the axe and he took my life.”

The father told Gato to run to the house and bring back a shovel. Gato did as she weas told. When she returned, she and her father dug up Gakuru’s grave. The only thing left was a rib bone.

Gato and her father took Gakuru’s rib home, washed it and apologized for what they had done. In that instant, Gakuru returned to his original form.

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Erik Is Not Alone

Erik’s story was written by Lukasz Zielonka for ROP Stories, one of the sites for ROP Center for Street Children and the Rwandan Orphan’s Project.

Erik’s Story

Erik sat on the plastic chair and looked deep into my translator’s eyes. Late afternoon light brightens every detail of his face, lost somewhere in the shadows of this tiny, little room.

Erik NYANKURU is just ten years old, but the way he looks at me is so mature that he could be one of us. A life’s worth of struggle and sadness condensed into a short, ten year life.

He was born in Gitarama, in south-west Rwanda.

It all began when he was seven. His mother had AIDS. Apparently she had an affair with a neighbor who passed the disease to her. When his father, Maurice Niyonkuru, found out about her sickness and about her lover he decided to kill the man – Erik doesn’t remember his name. Maurice had a very bad reputation in the area. He was ruthless and he liked to fight. His mother’s lover was afraid for his own life and finally left to Uganda.

Every day Erik was getting up very early to take care of his mother, washing and feeding her even when she was screaming in unbelievable pain.

She was the one who he remembers the most. She was always with him and his two older brothers when he was younger. She played with them, she taught him how to read and write, because they couldn’t afford to go to school.

One night he had a dream about his beloved mother. She was lying in her room screaming, coughing and calling his name but every time when he reached her she was dead. He woke up all of the sudden and ran to her bed. She was still breathing. Next day she seemed to feel better and hopeful, but soon after she seemingly gave up her fight with the disease. Erik believes she was waiting for the angels from heaven. She didn’t wait long.

After her death Maurice, Erik’s father, was accused of participating in the genocide by a Gacaca, the traditional community court of Rwanda. The tribal court issued a sentence of 15 years in prison for him. He was found responsible for many deaths and convicted as being one of the most enthusiastic killers.

Erik decided to leave Gitarama along with his neighbor Charles to Kigali. His older brothers stayed at home and since that day he has never seen or spoken to them. He was too busy taking care of himself.

His first week in the Rwandan capital was spent with Charlie’s family, but after that they told him to leave. He had no place to go, no place to hide and no one to talk to. He sold all his clothes, covering himself only with an old, dirty rug. He spent all his money on food.

Very quickly he became friends with Jean-Paul, a boy at the same age, who was very experienced in living on the street. He belonged to a group of young boys and Erik was very happy to join them.

They were trying to forget about the misery of their lives, and very easily did so with easy access to alcohol, cigarettes and drugs (he often inhaled the fumes of diesel engines). They were stealing charcoal from people’s houses and they were trying to sell it for any price. Soon they got into trouble with the police. They were arrested, but Jean-Paul, Erik and three more boys were able to escape from the police truck.

After five months on the streets he was well respected among the other kids, ‘trained’ and well versed in the area – especially the busy, dangerous Nyabugogo bus station. This doesn’t change the fact that he and the other boys were still spending nights sleeping in bushes or under the bridges.

The Rwandan Orphans Project Center for Street Children in Nyabugogo was well known to them – it was in their neighborhood. One day Erik was passing next to this orphanage, when suddenly someone called to him and later introduced himself. He was a staff member of the ROP Center. Erik was seduced by possibility of receiving regular meals and had agreed to join this facility. Initially it was very hard for him, but after the whole orphanage was moved to Kanombe he found peace and solace. Now he is a happy boy and he has hope – something he has never experienced before.

The hopelessness of everyday life has ended and as Erik says ‘I want to live to show other kids that life does not end up on the street’.

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Rwandan Orphan’s Project

Children at Rwandan Airport

This is part of a story by Sean at ROP Stories. If you can’t fly to Rwanda, please lend a hand by donating to the ROP Center for Street Children and help with food, water, schooling, job training, clothes and health care.

ROP VISITS THE AIRPORT

Most of us take airplanes for granted. For some, like me, they are fascinating. For others they are simply another form of transportation. But for all of us they are commonplace. Airports and airplanes, ho-hum.

To our boys though, they are quite interesting. The ROP Center sits just outside of the airport, so they are quite used to seeing airliners sporadically roaring overhead. But they seem quite interested every time, especially when it’s Ethiopian Airlines’ big 767 or the UN’s massive, deafening cargo plane that makes the ground tremble as it departs Kigali. They also see numerous helicopters buzzing around throughout the day. This is undoubtedly why, when Jenny gives the boys paper and pencils for drawing, there are always at least a few who draw their own versions of aircraft and helos.

Even before we left Rwanda for our visit to America, the younger boys had been asking Jenny if she could arrange a visit at the airport for them. Upon our return she submitted a letter to the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority requesting we be allowed a tour. After a short wait they called her to inform her that they accepted and gave her a date. On Tuesday we decided to inform the boys while they were all having lunch in the dining hall. Jenny told them, “Since you all have been so good lately, we have arranged a very special trip for you.” Celestin, the director, asked is anyone wanted to guess where. Several of the boys began shouting “America! America!”. Jenny and I immediately felt that the real surprise would now probably be disappointing, but we told them and they seemed quite happy, especially the younger boys.

CONCLUSION OF VISIT AND MORE PHOTOS

Don’t Forget

Don’t Forget by NGARANBE Daniel (in photo), is an excerpt from The Skin of Lions: Rwandan Folk Tales.

My life was in the streets and my bed in the dirt. My food was from dustbins. I used drugs to try to forget, but they didn’t help. I was a thief and would rob whoever passed my way. Then I found a new home and new parents at an orphanage called ROP Center for Street Children.

The man at ROP told me to come out from the street and join the other kids. They clothed me, treated me well, and helped me when I was sick. What touched me most was that they treated me just like any other kid. That is why I thank my new parents at ROP. Now I have a future. I am speaking English, Some French, and taking other courses.

I would ask the leaders of this nation, and all nations that are helping children, to keep doing what you can. Not because the children are your biological blood, but because they are people just like you.

Children are tomorrow’s wonder.

There are others in some families who are being misused for sexually immoral things and heavy work. Don’t forget all of those who are being wronged. They are looking to you, to anybody, wondering who will see them and reach out a hand.

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